Rabble rousers | By Haya Fatima Sehgal


Rabble rousers

MY aunt who sent me the most conspiracy theories about how apparently the West wanted to chip the entire world was one of the first people who got her jab when her tier came.

At one point we had to block her on WhatsApp as she would send conspiracy theories about the west taking over our lands; this all the while sitting in America and sipping their coffee and enjoying the benefits there. Each time I would unblock her she would send me one.

If I asked her to refrain, she would keep quiet. Staring at the blue ticks which told me she had seen my annoyance; she was on a mission in trying to educate me through her ‘warfare’.

Lockdown was just peachy with me blocking her, feeling sorry I did, unblocking her- only to block her again. Now that she is immunized, she doesn’t seem to send so many forwards anymore.

Sarcasm aside, the hypocrisy is shared by many. We here easily tend to put down the West for everything sordid thing in history. Rationalizing it all in droll living room conversations.

Now with media at our fingertips the conversation becomes a free for all forward- whether you want it plonking onto your phone or not.

These days were of click bait links to fake pages and conspiracy theories about Facebook. The misinformation is ironically enough on Facebook – the same app created for our connectivity.

The hypocrisy is that people used this App to spread idiocy against it whilst they still gain benefits of being in touch with our families and friends.

If you now feel I am defending Facebook, well actually I am. I like the App. So, in order to shut the conversation down I did the best thing for me. I unfriended my cousins who were posting these theories. It has been peaceful ever since.

The division and mistrust amongst people not to mention the paranoia that this created would’ve been quite effective – negatively.

I wondered if these ‘wattan ki mitti” sons and daughters of the soil, who usually post against the west so much would be giving up their Netflix subscription anytime soon.

Here is the thing, after putting up these posts, none of them got off Facebook themselves. This is also not the first time this has happened, nor it will ever be the last.

Rabbles rousers as I call them are the most intelligent of all ‘agitators’. Putting up cute posts (usually of their cats and well-placed soulful quotes most of the time).

Prayers for the dying and all that are there as well as a sprinkling of religious prayer posts which would make them seemingly pious.

But they will eventually let their colours show when they start to excite a crowd into rushing into liking posts which are simply something false or mostly misinformation.

And after roping in the masses, creating a hype about something they remain on the Apps or utilize the facilities themselves.

So here is the thing. I like social media of all kinds. I also love technology. It helped me reconnect with friends and loved ones I had lost touch with over the years.

It can get bad, toxic and at times exhausting but it has helped unite the world. All opinions need not be taken, nor any advice given that must be followed.

We are mature enough to recognize not to let our hearts and thoughts be usurped by emotional sentiments at every forward sent to us either. Fake news can be deleted, and unwanted people can be blocked.

Technology is not evil nor is social media nor is the West. It is people, human beings (everywhere) who are the ones responsible for using the tools be it for good, a cause, freedom of speech, or just pure entertainment and fun.

—The writer, based in Islamabad, is known for her articles on cultural impact.

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